Every now and then bloggers or site owners like to share something unique with their audience. Something downloadable … a freebie, maybe, or a downloadable premium product. Or whatever else comes to mind.
No matter what it is that you want to share, publishing a link pointing straight to your wp-content/uploads directory seems too obvious.
Of course, you can do just that, and your download will be 100% accessible, but that way you’re missing out on a lot of things. For instance, you have no tracking, no stats, no mirroring, no access control…
So how do you get all this? Quite obviously … plugins.
And I’m really not the type who thinks that plugins are the cure for everything. In most cases, I much rather prefer to come up with a nice functions.php hack or something. But here, plugins indeed are the only decent way of doing things.
Need proof? There’s a lot of freebies here at ThemeFuse, I’m sure you know this. So guess what we’re using to provide them to you… (?)
Yes, this is the one. It’s free, like most plugins, and provides a ton of features.
It takes care of every possible task when working with downloads. It lets you upload and then manage your files, track the number of download hits you get, and much more.
Actually, it comes with a complete download manager, where every file is listed in a separate row. It gathers stats on not only the number of downloads but also who downloaded them, plus it doesn’t count the hits generated by your admin users.
On top of that, there are different localized versions available. Just in case the blog you’re working on is not in English.
In some ways this plugin is very similar to Download Monitor. There’s even an import feature, where you can transfer all your Download Monitor files.
An important thing worth mentioning is that this plugin lets you control who can access your downloads. This makes it possible to provide some premium content for your registered users only (if you run a membership site of some kind). There’s also password protection if you want to use a simpler way of controlling who can download your stuff.
In the end, whether you go with Download Monitor or Download Manager is your personal decision. I advise you to check them both out … you never know which one will feel more comfortable.
This isn’t exactly a download manager plugin, so to speak. Basically, it lets you shrink, replace, and then track your links. In plain English, it’s your own personal bit.ly.
Using Pretty Link Lite is actually the simplest way of implementing some form of download management. The only thing you have to do is create a new Pretty link and point it to a file in the wp-content/uploads directory.
This will hide the actual link and provide you with some basic stats and tracking. Also, if somewhere down the road you’re going to update your file, you won’t have to edit all the links pointing to it one by one, just the Pretty link.
To be honest, this is the plugin I use on my blogs. I don’t really feel I need something more complex as I only share downloads occasionally.
This one closes the list, and it’s not a download manager plugin either. But it does something that’s closely related to the topic.
WP Document Revisions is a complete document management and version control solution. You can use it if the site you’re managing is maintained by a team of people who need some place to work on stuff collaboratively.
First of all, you can use it as a document management system. This makes sense when dealing with a WordPress installation for an online magazine or any kind of publishing house.
Secondly, you can use it simply as a file hosting system (in other words: a download manager). You can choose a setting that will enable you to deliver files to registered users, to the public, or to anyone who knows the exact link.
Actually, version control is THE valuable thing here. Each revision gets a unique URL, and you can set a ton of things regarding who (and when) can view your files.
There’s really a lot of features, so I advise you to check the official plugin site to get a more detailed description.
I hope we’ve got the topic of making a WordPress blog downloadable-media friendly pretty covered here. However, I’m sure there are lots of other things that are worth mentioning, so I have a question for you: What advice of your own do you have about handling downloads in WordPress?